In case you missed it, on April 23, 2019, Celebrity Journalist Roland S. Martin was in Sacramento, CA for the Education Town Hall discussing “Is School Choice the Black Choice?” Check out my previous post, “An Education Town Hall With Roland Martin and Special Guests” for the media release and other details about the event. Moments before the Town Hall, I was given the opportunity to briefly sit with Roland to discuss where his passion for the topic began and to find out the message he wants to send through his School Choice Education Town Hall events.
While in the green room with Roland, his wife Jacquie Hood Martin, and public relations guru Brittany “Britt” Parmley waiting for my moment to chat with Roland, he was working on a PBS documentary. I can say he was multi-tasking and handling business leading up to the moment he walked out into the forum.
B. LaTrice: Good Evening, Roland. Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you. My name is LaTrice and I am a blogger here in Sacramento. My business name and blog is Destiny Inspired Consulting. My blog is typically a lifestyle blog where I write about motivation, lifestyle, and “slice of life” topics. The data shows the majority of my blog followers are women between the ages of 25-44; most of those are mothers. So, about tonight’s [education forum] topic, [Is] School Choice is the Black Choice, what is the message you would want to express to followers of my blog?
Roland: The first thing is understanding is about education; this is about the future of their children. The problem is that you look at what is happening all across this country with black children in our school systems. I spent a lot of time deciding exactly what I want to focus on in terms of this choice movement. Look, I went to public schools my whole life in Houston [Texas], but I went to magnet schools when I was in elementary schools and magnet school is high school. So. having those magnet schools position me for what I am doing right now. I went to school for communications. So, what I am doing right now started when I was in the 9th grade. So, I’ve done this [advocating for education] for the past 36 years. So, being able to have that type of school is critically important. You look at the reading stats and math stats; the bottom line is black children are not getting the shot they deserve. So, why should we as African Americans, with our history, turn away from a system that allows us to be able to control our education? That’s what this [school choice] is about; this is about controlling education.
I go across this country. Black parents want success for their children. We did a poll a few years ago that we commissioned Cornell Belcher of Brilliant Corners Research (President Obama’s pollster). They went out and did research. More than 70% of black parents said they would send their kids to a charter school. More than 70% of black parents said they would actually use vouchers. What does that mean? That means black parents don’t have time for all the political drama and the back and forth. They want what’s best for their children. The problem is when we’ve had this conversation about control of charter schools, is that [the conversations] they are largely led by white people and has been a white people led movement. I’ve said to the movement, you cannot have a majority of kids in public schools today who are black and brown, but you don’t have black people and brown people who are leading these efforts.
So, what I’m trying to do is talk to black people and say no, we have an opportunity to control the education of our kids, control the curriculum and control the dollars being spent. This is not about tearing down traditional public schools; they can coexist. But, we can’t be in a situation where we somehow believe that we cannot participate in these systems.
B. LaTrice: How would you encourage someone to get on board with the [school choice] movement or a mother [parent] who would want to learn more about school choice?
Roland: The first thing is for these parents. Either you have children who are in school or you might be a homeowner who will be hiring people, so you need to be able to say is that you need to be able to hire the best and the brightest. So, I want them to first say is, how am I involved with it [the movement]? If you are unhappy with the education of your child. You need to be able to say I want to put my child in the best place. If you can’t afford to put your child[ren] in public school, then we need to be saying NO, we need to control the charter schools; we are going to run those charter schools and support black-run charter schools and I encourage that. I want our children to be in the best situation possible. I want more black charter schools, but I want successful charter schools. I don’t support the failure of traditional schools and I don’t support the failure of charter schools. I want us to say that we want high quality that is working for our children. That means those women and mothers should be saying is my school doing the job. What’s the grade? What’s the proficiency rate? How many of these kids are passing? Are these kids on grade-level? If their kids are in schools where 70 and 80 percent are not on grade level, I don’t want my kid in that school. That’s where we start.
B. LaTrice: Ok, so just continue to educate themselves [on the topic of school choice]?
Roland: Yes, and learn more about it and do not accept the status quo and not have people try to make them feel bad or saying you shouldn’t be doing this. Nonsense, they should be doing this.
B. LaTrice: Awesome. Thank you for your time.
Roland: Cool. I appreciate it. Thanks so much.
Roland has posted the live stream of the “Is School Choice the Black Choice” Sacramento Town Hall Event on his YouTube channel.
Big thanks to Margaret Fortune, President/CEO of Fortune Schools for making this event happen and the special guest panelists: Pastor Tecoy Porter – Sacramento Chapter President of National Action Network, Dr. Hazel Mahone – Professor at California State University Sacramento, Larry Lee – Publisher of the Sacramento Observer, and Romel Antoine – Director of Regulatory Affairs for California Charter Schools Association.
‘School Choice is the Black Choice’ is on tour to create dialogue, awareness, and to educate black families on public school options. See the Press Release document for more information about the Assembly Bills – AB 1505, AB 1506, and AB 1507 that will be discussed along with Senate Bill – SB 756.
For more information on the topic of School Choice as it relates to the black students, families, and communities, please reach out to the following:
School Choice is the Black Choice
National Action Network – Sacramento Chapter
California Charter Schools Association
I want to hear from you on YOUR perspective, thoughts, and understanding of the topic of School Choice. Are you a parent, educator, student, grandparent, community leader, or citizen who has feedback on this topic? I’d love to hear from you. This is an opportunity and platform where you can peacefully and respectfully share your two cents. So, I encourage you to share your thoughts and to please SHARE and REPOST this blog to create more discussion and awareness of the topic.
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